The gruesome killing and rape of an eight year girl at Kathua has shocked entire country and sanner voices were demanding strict action against the rapists and those responsible for heinous crime against girls and women.
Even though the rape and murder of young girl was apparently aimed to drive away a particular community and later some people with political backing even tried to defend the accused by using different alibi however these incidents have brought bad name to the country. And such is the seriousness of the crime this incident attracted attention from the international media who demanded strict action against those indulging in the gruesome crime.
Realising the gravity of the situation and mode of common masses across country, Union Cabinet approved an ordinance to amend the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 to introduce the death penalty for rape of children younger than 12 years. The decision was taken during a meeting at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence in 7 Lok Kalyan Marg in New Delhi.
The ordinance will have to be approved in Parliament within the next six months. The decision to pass an ordinance became inevitable after Centre, in a letter submitted to the Supreme Court, said that it has started the process to amend the POCSO Act to ensure maximum punishment of death penalty in child rape cases where the victim is under 12 years of age.
The Centre submitted its report while responding to a PIL that had raised concern over the growing number of crime against young girls across different states. The Act was framed to protect children from offences of sexual abuse, sexual harassment and pornography and to provide a child-friendly system for the trial of these offences.
The move came amid rising tensions over the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district and the alleged rape of a minor in Unnao by a BJP MLA, among other instances.
Earlier Union minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, had said that her ministry will bring an amendment in the POCSO Act. Her statement came after Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had assured that her government would bring a “new law” on the same lines to punish the culprits.
Even during his latest visit to JK, both president of India and JK chief minister had raised serious concern against the rape and murder that took place in Kathua.
President Ram Nath Kovind termed the Kathua rape and murder case a ‘shameful’ incident. While addressing the sixth convocation of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University at Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, President questioned the kind of society we are developing. Kovind said that after seven decades of independence incident like Kathua, occurring in any part of the country is shameful.
“After, 70 years of independence such an incident occurring in any part of the country is shameful. We have to think what kind of society we are developing,” he said.
The President also said it is society’s responsibility to ensure such incidents do not occur to any girl or woman in the country. He added that society has to assure that all types of crime against girls and women are curbed and education can play an important role in achieving this goal.
“It is our responsibility to ensure such a thing does not happen to any girl or woman. The most beautiful thing in this world is the smiling face of a child. And the security of our children is the greatest success of our society. It is a responsibility of the society to give security and a sense of safety to them,” the President said.
The President also highlighted the contribution and success of women’s in different fields, including India’s success in recently concluded Commonwealth games at Goldcoast. He said daughters of India have brought laurels to the country.
“Daughters of India have brought laurels to the country in Commonwealth Games 2018 including Manika Batra from Delhi, Mary Kom, Mirabai Chanu and Sangeeta Chanu from Manipur, Manu Bhaker and Vinesh Phogat from Haryana, Saina Nehwal from Telangana and Heena Sidhu from Punjab,” Kovind said.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti raised fingers on the behaviour of the people and promised strict action against the rapists. After Centre passed the law, the J-K cabinet also passed similar ordinance equivalent punishment for the rapists.
By the means of an ordinance we have brought an amendment to Criminal Law Ordinance 2018 which will enhance punishment to 20 years/ life imprisonment for sexual offences against women under 13 to 60 years,” said Rural Development Minister Abdul Hak Khan.
In J-K of late crime against women and girls are on rise and there have been incidents in the past that forced people to ponder over the growing violence against women and girls. Recently in a shameful incident in Kreeri area of Baramulla, police arrested a school teacher who had raped her student.
The incident raised many questions and people demanded strict action against the teacher. After the incident came into limelight the police swung into action and arrested the culprit. Time has come when there should be zero tolerance for such crimes otherwise history will never forgive us. Besides passing the laws, the government should also try to use all its resources so that guilty in these types of crimes gets severe punishment.
Laws are not the Solution
Meanwhile, the ordinance passed by the Union government and Jammu and Kashmir state is not seen as a panacea to the soaring crimes against women. Even the Prime Minster Narender Modi urged for a social movement across country to ensure the weaker gender is safe in our society after an ordinance was approved by his cabinet.
“The government in Delhi listens to your heart. We should learn to give respect to daughters in the family; we should increase the importance of daughters in the family and start teaching sons about responsibility. It will never be difficult to protect daughters if we start teaching sons about responsibility.
“The one who acts devilishly will face the gallows. We have to build a social movement and we can all together bring out the country from this problem,” he said.
His suggests were well received that the society cannot only be protected by laws enacted in the system; however, moral values need to be taught children right from his childhood.
Deepika Singh Rajawat who fights the case of 8 year old Kathua girl terms the crimes against women as systematic problem and believes that laws are not the mere solution to this problem.
“Legislation on this issue will not work. Had that been the case, rapes would have stopped after Dhananjay Chatterjee’s hanging. How many rapes have happened since then? The incidents of Nirbhaya and the eight-year-old child have happened,” she told in an interview to a New Delhi Based legal portal.
In India, where because of a few people the setup has become polluted, I don’t think capital punishment would work. I believe the system needs to be changed. Stakeholders need to work more efficiently, and everyone needs to do their duty. The Prime Minister, President and Chief Ministers have a role to play.”